“When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground.” Psalm 104:30
Dear Redeemer Family:
The Spirit, created, renewal: all sounds like biblical themes to me. As we enter into the month of June, we do so in the light of the Day of Pentecost (May 31st this year), and with it the gift of the Holy Spirit being poured out upon the Church. We do so knowing that we are created by God, claimed by God through Christ, and renewed by the Holy Spirit in faith and in baptism. The Psalm (104) may be seen as prophetic in that sense. And although we take the created part of granted, people often have trouble with the renewal part. The Holy Spirit is often the most unpredictable Person of the Trinity. It goes where it wills. And the problem with renewal is that it often involves change. People don’t like change. You should know that my favorite David Bowie song is “Changes.” You may listen to it at your leisure. We are now faced with some changes.
The press is calling these “restrictions” caused by the coronavirus the “New Normal.” They are really just changes. Most of them aren’t so bad, just different. We can live with them. In fact, we have to. And, there are a number which apply to Church gatherings as dictated by the CDC, Health Department and the ELCA. Here are some examples. We are allowed to reopen at on quarter seating capacity. So, we have taped off two out of three rows of pews for social distancing. You are invited to come into the building on May 31st after the outdoor service to see the arrangements. Also, thanks to social distancing, we will be celebrating Holy Communion in “continuous” form. Having everyone kneel at the altar rail, six feet apart is a problem. And, we have taped six foot intervals on the carpet of the central aisle to help with the distancing. As per Holy Communion, only the individual cups will be used. The chalice will be there, but only individual cups will be used for the distribution. Everyone entering the church building must wear a mask, and continue to wear it unless they have a speaking part, or to receive Communion. No, I don’t like this one either. But, the mask is to protect our neighbors more than anything else. Originally, singing was out. But, I called the State of Missouri’s Covid 19 Hotline and asked about it. If we are socially distanced and wearing masks, they said singing together is okay. But, handshaking, hugging, etc. is not allowed, except among household members. So, Sharing of the Peace is now to be with a nod or a wave. And, I’m not to shake people’s hands at the door, nor are the ushers. And, now for the one that will really upset some of you: No donuts. Sorry.
There are a few more, which I’ll send out later. But, as we celebrate Christ’s sending of the Holy Spirit, we also have to recognize that the devil sent the coronavirus, probably arriving by bat. The Holy Spirit is the greater gift by far. And, by practicing safety measures, hand washing, sanitizer, etc. We are still enabled to gather together and celebrate the gifts of God. As much as we may not like the New Normal, we can still gather in joy and celebration of the good gifts which we have received from God and be renewed. Stay safe and healthy!